India reported a record increase in COVID-19 infections on Monday, becoming a second country after America to report more than 100,000 new cases in a day, as politicians’ stage major election rallies increasing fears of spreading the chronic virus.
The hospital in the worst-affected state, Maharashtra, was flooded with patients. The wealthiest state of India, home to the commercial capital of Mumbai and many industries, reported a record of 57,074 new cases overnight. The country’s daily infection rate had increased by about 12 times as it reached a multi-month low in early February when the authorities lifted most restrictions, and people stopped wearing masks.
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With 103,558 new infections, the Asian country has now reported 12.6 million cases, the highest after the United States and Brazil, data from the Ministry of Health shows. Death soared at 478; it was still one of the lowest death rates globally, raising a total of up to 165,101. India has recorded the number of most infections in the past week anywhere in the world. Virus variants that are more contagious may have played a role in the second surge, said several epidemiology experts/
“New variants, or a concerned variant, may explain the number, rather than a simple behavior explanation,” said Rajib Dasgupta, Head of the Center for Social Medicine & Public Health at Jawaharlal University Nehru New Delhi. India has found hundreds of virus variants first detected in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil.
Subhash Salunke, a former WHO official who advises the government in Maharashtra on its COVID-19 strategy, said cases in the state would continue to increase for several weeks. He said the way out was to vaccinate all adults in the most challenging cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Nashik. “If we start doing this, at the end of April, we will see a downward trend,” he said.
India, the world’s largest vaccine maker, has injected 77 million doses at home since starting its campaign in mid-January – the third-highest after the United States and China. However, vaccination per capita vaccination remains lower than many other countries, including China which began to give shots to its citizens much earlier.
India is currently vaccinating people over 45 after inoculating health workers and front lines first with Astrazeneca shots. In a meeting held by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, officials discussed raising the country’s vaccine output.
The government in recent weeks slowed the exports of vaccines after sending more than 65 million doses abroad. Although cases have increased exponentially in almost a dozen Indian states, politicians and ministers are still holding demonstrations attended by tens of thousands of unmasked people jostling for space.
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